Perhaps all the dragons of our lives
are princesses who are only waiting to
see us once, beautiful and brave.
Perhaps everything terrible is in
Its deepest being something
that needs our love. — Rainer Maria Rilke
Last week I volunteered a short session in the context of a variety of monthly events organised by a group of friends under the umbrella of Archventures.
… the cast in the shadows … …
We have inside us a cast of players for every imaginable scene. Occasionally banned and hidden characters pop up. Excluded from our script, they emerge inadvertently through surprise encounters, act irrational and appear cartoon-like. Unacknowledged, a wild player roams in the unconscious unconnected, until an emotional trigger hits a sensitive node. We are not amused when an unsophisticated trait breaks to the surface with behaviour that will embarrass and shame us, belying our self-image.
We learn as children to shield ourselves from rejection and injustice. Our strategies are endless and contrary … like being compliant and withholding or defensive and angry. Think of a natural and well-meaning quality persons in your early environment disapproved of in the name of moral perfection. Your trust may have been betrayed, manipulated and taken advantage of. We adjust as best we can. Rules are needed for societies to function.
We spend our life until we’re twenty deciding what parts of ourselves to put in the bag, and we spend the rest of our lives trying to get them out again. – Bly
In relation to our genuine nature, the sacrifices we make in order to belong can be as disproportionate as the sacrifices we make to defy authority. Feelings we edit out of our lives gather a strange luminosity and succumb to an archetypal force beyond our command. Yet a closer look at the rawness and imperfections of disowned players may surprise. They invariably hold a gift, often the very essence of our creativity.
A way to re-own the locked up energy is to honour our battle scars and weaknesses. We don’t have to agree with inner and outer adversaries, only accept their existence in us. This acceptance opens the heart to tolerance, rapport, understanding, empathy – and insight.
‘Our friends show us what we can do – our enemies teach us what we must do.’ – Goethe
We make room for imperfection … 25th Feb 2012
What is uplifting about our monthly Archventures gatherings are the hugs … yup … never underestimate the invigorating power of hugs. What I also appreciate – and this applies to many groups whose core members meet regularly – is that we form a different entity each time, enriched by everyone’s fresh constellation of experience and insight. Newcomers feel welcome and at ease in this irreverent group that does not follow any one creed, ideology or person.
The most powerful player this afternoon was the seven-year-old son of a participant. The boy was fascinated by the boxes of miniature world-objects I had brought along.
He outplayed us all, instantly creating a legion of his world.
The young will be forever potent in their ability to play and invent …
We adults shared unique and moving stories about early misdeeds, raising questions to be explored individually. (The photo is of a different occasion)
Some shadows we drag along are not of our own making, a dilemma that also applies to families and nations.
‘The best political, social, and spiritual work we can do is to withdraw the projection of our shadow onto others.’ ― C. G. Jung
Understanding the origins of shadow-projections softens the compelling affect they have in defining us, and our reactions to being fitted into a frame. Observing politics, it is obvious that negotiations are not enough to solve longstanding conflicts. It takes the awareness and inner work of individuals to let go of resentment, release the spark of creativity that enables lateral thinking, and the flow of compassion tied up in the entanglement of righteousness.
And there remains the unknowable, luminous black hole, and a sixth sense of something that evades us. What is mysterious, not accessible emotionally or through analysis, drives us on to dig deeper, expand our consciousness, and re-discover the link to our innermost self.
‘We are born at a given moment, in a given place, and like vintage years of wine, we have the qualities of the year and of the season in which we are born.’ ― C. G. Jung
With only three hours’ time available, the session at least inspired us to remember what is in our power to do. There remains the ever impelling potential of greater intensity and more poise between safety and risk on the tightrope of our life.
Our dear friend Rahima outlined the shadow theme as C. G. Jung defined it. If you have not heard of the term ‘shadow’ in this context you might want to investigate: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shadow_(psychology)
And in relation to the activity of writing – here a dream image in the eye of its beholder http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M19S89UcaKQ&feature=related
* * *
4 responses to “… the cast in the shadows …”
Yet another fascinating and thought provoking post that touches on some truths that we acknowledge but tend to keep hidden
Thanks, Diana. Writers have an advantage, playing with their imagination.
I like the idea of a cast of players, jockeying inside us for the right time to emerge. I like thinking about the act of writing fiction and the trait of each character cropping up from some place where we have perhaps hidden it. Very provocative and worth further investigation, this idea of shadows…thanks for the food for thought this morning :).
Characters pop up from nowhere during my process of writing, all wanting a word :). Sure this happened to you, Mary. I’m pleased the piece inspired you to further investigate the shadow theme.